Voting against financial transparency – the excuses are in

This blog exclusively uncovered how a majority of Members of European Parliament shamelessly voted AGAINST financial transparency surrounding the “Conference on the Future of Europe”. In other words, they were of the opinion that taxpayers should be paying for their – extremely biased – reflection exercise but that it was really not a good idea for those taxpayers to know what would precisely be financed.

Here are some of their excuses:

German Pirate MEP Patrick Breyer (who sits with the green group in the EP):

A bit of a lame excuse, we think. Why vote against a call for “keeping of separate accounts”, something which can make it easier to scrutinise?

One Czech Pirate MEP came to support the German Pirate-in-need:

So apparently citizens and journalists having to deep-dive and search for grants and tenders on three separate institution websites instead of for example displaying all funding involved on the official platform /about section should be considered as Pirate-style transparency.

Then, at least our Pirate friends were so kind to respond, unlike Renew and GUE, for example, despite the fact that we have asked them multiple times to explain their puzzling voting behaviour. Apparently, EU citizens are not only not good enough to be able to properly scrutinize CoFoE financial undertakings, they are also not even worthy of a simple reply on twitter.

Also, this European Commission top advisor has waded in, providing yet another line of defense:

A bit of a weird take.

The fact that a certain amendment was part of a series of separate amendments should not prejudice on how to vote on it.

Also, a “commitment to full transparency” does not mean another committee is needed. The Commission and Parliament could easily be open and publish all communication & engagement related grants under the /about section.

Why don’t they?

Are they trying to hide something?

MEPs just voted AGAINST financial transparency for the Conference on the Future of Europe

Last week, the European Parliament voted on whether there should be “clarifications on financing of the “Conference on the Future of Europe” when it comes to “the conditions for financing this conference and the consequences for the [European Parliament]’s budget”.

The amendment also asked MEPs to support “a commitment to full transparency on the expenditure of this conference, including the keeping of separate accounts and an audit report by the European Court of Auditors for each year of functioning”

Guess how MEPs voted on this?

You’d think it’s a no-brainer for all MEPs to support this. Even proponents of the “future of Europe” talking shop shouldn’t have any problem with full transparency, right?

Think again.

The whole thing was voted down with 329 MEPs voting in favour, 360 against, and 10 abstaining.

Here’s a breakdown (SOURCE):

Almost everyone in EPP, ECR and ID supported transparency, with some notable dissent from the group line.

The great proponents of CoFoE, the “pro-European” “Renew” group and the greens, unanimously rejected transparency. Also the socialists and the far left mostly voted against, but at least a few among them still supported the idea.

With so few votes making the difference it is hard to understand how MEPs from transparency-minded Nordic and Western European Member States could vote to reject transparency in such a blatant manner. Did they think people wouldn’t notice?

Noteworthy is that the co-chair of the Executive Board of the Conference, Guy Verhofstadt (Renew, BE) voted against transparency. The EPP representative on the Board voted in favor while the socialist voted against. Of the observers on the Executive Board only Zdzisław Krasnodębski (ECR, PL) voted for transparency. Daniel Freund (Greens/EFA, DE) and Helmut Scholz (The Left, DE) voted against. In a bizarre twist Gerolf Annemans (ID, BE) abstained. He is observer for the same ID group that tabled the amendment.

Just when you thought the “Conference on the Future of Europe” was a rather extreme example of Brussels navel-gazing, there’s the European Parliament – an institution supposed to scrutinize EU policy making – to take it one step further and publicly reject financial transparency.

Nobody seems happy with the “Conference on the Future of Europe”.

It seems like nobody is actually happy with the whole “Conference on the Future of Europe”.

Polish MEP Ryszard Legutko pointed out that “it’s the Council, not the Parliament or the Commission that can convene such a conference”, further suggesting not “to deviate from what the Treaties have stipulated”, a rather unpopular thing to do in EU circles:

On this turn, Swedish MEP Charlie Weimers, warned:

“The goal is clear: to transfer more power to the EU. Such a transfer of power, however, lacks any kind of popular support.”

Spanish MEP Jorge Buxade went on to warn about the increasingly evident bias of the ‘Conference on the Future of Europe’, saying:

“If we start the debate by denying participation to other ways of seeing Europe, if this Parliament takes sides, this conference is born already mortally wounded.”

Also non-eurosceptics have expressed scepticism. For example Andras Baneth, the author of the Ultimate EU Test Book, the best-seller on EU exams for those seeking EU careers and a former Commission official with the Barroso commission) suggests to “just cancel the Future of Europe Conference”:

No matter how hard they try to make these future-looking discussions citizen-driven, bottom-up, and representative of European society, the voices present will not speak for what the majority of Europeans want.

Why would a random, unrepresentative mix of civil servants, self-appointed opinion leaders, and vocal activists be the ones to decide where the EU should be heading?”

German green MEP Daniel Freund, who leads negotiations on the conference for his group, wasn’t a happy bunny either during the run-up to the conference, complaining in February that: “I am perplexed why the Council would seek to exclude certain political families from the key body of the conference … Restricting the agenda-setting in this way might risk the success of the conference.”

Also the “Brussels bubble” media isn’t too thrilled, as an editorial in Politico reads as follows:

“Macron’s grand idea for a Europe-wide discussion, the sort of thing that EU leaders often resist as a navel-gazing exercise, instead turned into a navel-gazing exercise about a navel-gazing exercise.

The outset of the coronavirus pandemic also removed some urgency from the project, as the prospect of a traveling troupe of Brussels officials, touring across 27 countries for a series of hours-long town hall meetings, suddenly seemed rather preposterous.”

Nobody really seems happy. Perhaps that should lead to a certain conclusion?

“Listening to the people” isn’t exactly the EU’ strongest point

During an online meeting to discuss the EU’s “Conference on the Future of Europe”, Portugese EPP MEP Lídia Pereira made the following point:

EPP Group on Twitter: “.@lidiafopereira says the power of Europe to listen to people and to understand them is crucial. #CoFoE has to deliver this and respond” / Twitter

For our younger readers, it is worth recalling that this isn’t actually something the EU has made a habit of in its history.

An overview:

In 1992, A referendum on the EU’s Maastricht Treaty was held in Denmark. It was rejected by 50.7% of voters with a turnout of 83.1%.

Danish voters were asked to vote again, in 1993, (after some opt-outs were granted to the country)

In 2001, the EU’s Treaty of Nice was rejected in a referendum by Irish voters.

They were asked to vote on it again, in 2002, after the Irish government obtained a piece of paper the Seville Declaration on Ireland’s policy of military neutrality from the European Council.

In 2005, voters in France and the Netherlands rejected the European Constitution.

This was repackaged into the Lisbon Treaty, after some symbols – like the European flag – were removed (never mind that the EU simply continues to use that flag everywhere). Valery Giscard d’Estaing, architect of the EU’s “Constitution” explained at the time that Lisbon was the same as the rejected constitution but that only the format had been changed to avoid referendums.

To avoid a referendum appeared impossible in Ireland, which rejected the Lisbon Treaty, in a 2008 referendum.

Ireland was asked to vote again on the Treaty one year later, in 2009.

Spot a pattern?

“Just cancel the whole thing already” – says EU insider

Writing for EUObserver, Andras Baneth, a former EU Commission official with the Barroso commission and, as the author of the “Ultimate EU Test Book”, the best-seller on EU exams for those seeking EU careers, a real “EU insider”, raises the question:

“Why would a random, unrepresentative mix of civil servants, self-appointed opinion leaders, and vocal activists be the ones to decide where the EU should be heading?”

Indeed, why would it?

He goes on:

“European voters may decide that they do not want further integration or an ever closer union, so they choose representatives and leaders who wish to leave the EU, or perhaps bring the European Union back to the essence of European integration.

That may lead to the dismantling or scaling back of the dwindling and largely failing EU foreign policy, social, or tax regulations, and focusing on the core ‘four freedoms’ to create a real internal market that benefits everyone.

Is the Conference on the Future of Europe ready to contemplate such radical ideas?”

Asking the question is giving the answer. The author is absolutely right, when he writes: “Just cancel the Future of Europe Conference”.

This conference is clearly not the right path forward for Europe.

OUR MISSION – Scrutinising the Conference on the Future of Europe

A real Conference on the Future of the European Union would seek to honestly discover, through debate and dialogue, which direction Member State citizens’ wish to take the EU in. It would explore the hypothesis that the voters don’t want an EU foreign policy or harmonized social- and tax regulations or that the next generation might not want wealth transfers or a health union. It would accept and respect the possibility that Europeans may not want an ever-closer union and that voters may wish to scale back integration i.e. less Europe, not more.

The European Union is at a crossroads and we are served a charade instead of a real examination and thorough evaluation of the EU’s mission and means.

The “Conference on the Future of the European Union” will consist of countless lengthy meetings, discussions and debates. It will publish legions of reports and release multitudes of statements. It will contain many proposals for reforms and suggestions for change. It will be enough to cause indigestion even for those with an appetite for this kind of dish.

Only a tiny fraction of EU citizens will ever have any part in the Conference’s proceedings and most will never even know of its existence. But one thing this blog can claim for sure is that, most Europeans do not want their country, kingdom, republic or duchy to be subsumed into a union and their nation to perish from the earth.

This blog will provide timely information and accurate analysis on what is being said, by whom, and explain what this conference is really about, to provide those beyond the Brussels bubble that have not learned the local lingo and that do not have the time, tools or tenacity to get engaged and protest.

Our mission is to advocate for the idea to entrust the right path forward for Europe to member state democracies. A real conference would put each of the current competencies and proposed powers to the test in a series of national referendums and/or elections.

The “Conference on the Future of Europe” is a project of the elites, by the elites and for the elites. The purpose of this year-long charade is not to find what the citizens of the various states want, but to orchestrate the perception that the establishment has the backing of the peoples to endorse a predetermined outcome in a vain attempt to legitimize the next push towards a European federal state.

The only legitimate foundation for proposals for further EU integration is to command the support of a majority in all member states of the Union.